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I’m More Than My Skin, and I’ll Show You

Thays shares her turning point with psoriasis 

Thays is one of our Brazilian writers hailing from São Paulo. She’s 39 years old and was diagnosed with psoriasis at age 13.In 2010, after having read endless articles, blogs and journals about the disease, she decided it was time to share her personal experience with others. Along with Skin to live in, Thays writes for her own blog titled “Amigos com Psoríase (Friends with Psoriasis) which has more than 45 thousand friends who share their stories, struggles, and support in the hopes of enjoying a happier life. 

When I was diagnosed with psoriasis, I didn't expect it would be something that would change my life forever.

I was wrong - everything changed. First my skin, then the way I saw myself in the mirror. To add to that, people started looking at me in a different way - and it wasn’t in a nice way, either. My self-worth would go tumbling down as my psoriasis spots would flare up.

People that are living with psoriasis know that the disease is a challenge for anyone’s self-esteem. Social interactions start to become a huge obstacle, and we begin choosing isolation to avoid listening to prejudiced comments, disapproving looks and cruel jokes.

Teenage years + psoriasis

I was just 13 years old when I was diagnosed. The teenage years are tough enough, so when you add a skin disease to it, it’s torture. My schoolmates pushed me away thinking that psoriasis was contagious, and no boy ever had an interest in asking me on a date. You’d think summer vacation would be my savior, but I’d wear winter clothes to hide the psoriasis spots on the hottest days. And trust me, summer days in Brazil are HOT, so it wasn’t comfortable!

Being criticized, made fun of, and rejected because of a skin condition can be really devastating. I can remember many nights sobbing before I went to bed, playing back cruel things people had said to me. It took me a while to realize that external differences have a significant impact on other people, whether by fear or curiosity - and with my skin being different from others, it impacted those around me.

The turning point

It took a while, but I began to accept myself 15 years after diagnosis. Reaching my late 20’s came with the understanding that everybody is different and has a burden to bear. Psoriasis was my burden. I began ignoring the beauty standard imposed by media and despite the spots all over my skin, I began feeling beautiful. More importantly, I learned how to deal with discrimination and ignore the prejudice. It was empowering - to simply let go of what others thought of me and love myself. You should definitely try it :).

I now realize that throughout my life, I will meet open-minded people who will understand my story. On the contrary, there are others who will not understand. Some people are just afraid of your differences, and you have to accept that.

What’s next

Psoriasis has made me a stronger person. I know that sounds cliché, but it really has! From the ridicule and stigmatization, I’ve emerged a better person and you can feel that way too. Believe it or not, the solution is simple, but tough to do - you have to love yourself. You have to love yourself enough to let love in your heart and forget all of the negativity. More importantly, you need to love yourself enough to make a difference. So, get up, get out and make it happen. You can make a change in your life to love yourself. I did and I’m very thankful for it. 

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